Since 1986, over 1,300 interns have gone through the SEO Law Diversity Fellowship program, which links talented, underrepresented incoming law students to elite global law firms. In this exclusive post, SEO Law explains how the Fellowship Program helps law students excel before, during, and after law school. You can apply here now!
What Happens After You Get into Law School?
Aspiring law students know what it takes to gain acceptance to the school of their dreams: studying for and conquering the LSAT, crafting a strong personal statement, and crushing the interview. But what about preparing to succeed at law school and afterwards? What steps can you take before and during school to ensure you maximize your law school experience and secure a job in corporate law? These are critical questions. But, unfortunately, they can become an afterthought for incoming law students.
For over 30 years, the SEO Law Diversity Fellowship Program has helped diverse incoming law students prepare for the academic rigors of law school and jumpstart their legal careers. Here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way.
For better or worse, grades matter in law school—especially if you are hoping to land a coveted position at a top corporate law firm. Not only is learning the subject matter like learning a new language, but since law school is graded on a curve, you must also outperform your peers in order to earn top marks. Consequently, incoming law students need to hit the ground running. Before you know it, you’ll be applying to 1L summer internships, so falling behind is not an option.
To prepare for 1L, SEO Law Fellows complete a free two-week intensive training program in New York City, including instruction from law professors and practitioners on reading legal opinions, briefing cases, legal writing, outlining, and writing law school exams. This allows Fellows to arrive on campus confident in their ability to excel. Additionally, SEO Law Fellows receive ongoing academic support throughout their entire 1L year to ensure that they have every opportunity to outperform their peers from the very beginning. For Donna Scaffidi, an SEO Law Diversity Fellowship alumna who is currently a 1L at the University of Michigan Law School, the additional academic support “was like having a private tutor who taught the material from a different perspective. It gave me an intimate virtual classroom environment to ask questions and work through concepts with the tutor and my colleagues (other SEO Law alumni).”
Build and Leverage Your Network
While grades are important, networking is also essential to launch your legal career. As you begin to think about law school, it is critical that you also start to strategically build your legal network. Success in the legal profession is highly dependent on your ability to develop and maintain relationships across a variety of industries and practice areas.
Networking can also be a terrific way to learn about different firms and opportunities available to students. As a law student, having a wealth of attorneys from different practice areas in your network can help you expand your knowledge and understanding of the various practice areas you can pursue after graduation. For Scaffidi, attending SEO Law-sponsored networking events allowed her to speak with practicing attorneys and continue developing her professional network before starting law school, which helped her “grow [her] understanding of practice areas that firms focus on and how that aligns with what [she] want[s] to do, as well as the culture at different firms.”
With over 1,300 alumni, the SEO Law Diversity Fellowship Program provides ample opportunity for networking—Fellows have gone on to become successful lawyers, advocates, and leaders across all sectors of law, business, and politics. Notable alumni include:
- Julian Castro, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama
- Danielle Gray, Assistant to the President, Cabinet Secretary, and a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama
- Nicole Isaacs, Head of U.S. Public Policy at LinkedIn
- Brandon Etheridge, General Counsel of the Baltimore Ravens
- Imelme Umana, first Black female president of the Harvard Law Review
The Importance of Internships
It might seem obvious, but it cannot be overstated: an internship is the key to securing a full-time associate position after graduation and jumpstarting your legal career. Particularly at top-tier corporate law firms, full-time associate hires are predominately selected from students who completed a 2L summer internship at that firm, known as a summer associateship. An internship at a top corporate law firm the summer before you even begin law school can help you develop tangible skills that will make you attractive to recruiters for 2L internships and can demonstrate that you already have the ability to thrive in a fast-paced setting.
As part of the SEO Law Diversity Fellowship Program, Fellows complete an 8-week paid internship at one of our partner law firms across the U.S. This is a great opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience and see how law firms truly operate as many of the firms fully integrate the SEO Law Fellows into their summer associate program. For Scaffidi, the internship also provided a chance to assess what type of law she wants to purse, to build up her contacts, and to get a jump start on classroom material. Throughout the internship, Scaffidi was able to develop a “grasp of big picture concepts that we are now learning in the classroom and see how they are applied in the corporate law setting, which has been really beneficial.”
You can apply to the SEO Law Diversity Fellowship Program here. The application deadline is March 5, 2018, but we encourage prospective Fellows to apply soon! Select candidates will be invited to interview beginning in January 2018.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the SEO Law Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. 📝
The SEO Law Fellowship Program offers scholarships, academic preparation, career development training, and internship opportunities to talented, underrepresented incoming law students. Fellows spend two weeks in New York City receiving hands-on training from legal practitioners and academic instruction from law school professors, before embarking on an 8-week paid internship at a top corporate law firm—all before starting law school. Additionally, Fellows receive ongoing academic support throughout their first year and lifetime access to over 13,000 SEO alumni, including over 1,500 attorneys in the SEO Law Alumni Network.